Marriott Invite stocked with county talent

NORCROSS -- The second major high school boys basketball showcase event in as many weekends will feature a much more local flavor when the 2010 Marriott Invitational tips off Saturday at Norcross High School.

Four different Gwinnett teams -- including the host Blue Devils -- will be featured in the four games throughout the day at the House of Blue, with teams from Georgia squaring off against teams from neighboring states in three of them.

It's a bit of a departure from the format the showcase had when it was started as the Prime Time Shootout a few years ago.

"Last year, we decided to eliminate the outside organizers and take it on ourselves," said Norcross coach and tournament organizer Jesse McMillan. "We wanted to turn it into something that is every year pretty well respected around the Southeast. We want to keep it to where it's four or five of the better local teams versus (teams from) a border state."

That mission has been accomplished this year. Saturday's opening game features an all-Gwinnett matchup, with Peachtree Ridge playing Berkmar, with tip off at 3 p.m.

The only game not featuring a Gwinnett team follows at 4:30, with No. 6 Centennial taking on South Carolina powerhouse Duncan, which boasts South Carolina's Class AAA Player of the Year DeAndre Hopkins.

Class AA top-ranked GAC then takes to the court at 6 p.m. to meet Alabama powerhouse Greene County, led by two of its state's top players in senior Nieko Hunter and 6-foot-8 post Pierre Crawford.

Recently annointed (by the Georgia Sports Writers Association) No. 1 and host Norcross (15-2) rounds out the day by playing host to Quality Education Academy of North Carolina and highly-touted junior forward Quincy Miller and 6-10 post Juvonte Reddic.

For Spartans coach Eddie Martin, it will be a homecoming of sorts as the first regular season game he has coached at the House of Blue since leaving Norcross to become head coach at GAC in 2008.

"We played there in a summer league game, and I've been back to another game, but this is the first regular season game back there for me as a coach," said Martin, whose Spartans are 17-1 coming into tonight's action. "We were excited when Jesse called and asked if we'd be interested in playing. ... It's a strong game two weeks before the end of the season. Those kind of games, win or lose, do nothing but help you if you can get to the postseason.

"We've played teams like this before, but you've still got to go out and do your thing to be comeptitive."